AIDS coalition leader outlines the fight against the disease
The North Idaho AIDS Coalition recently received one of the largest grants in the nonprofit organization’s history, a $72,000 award through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program that’s likely to be repeated annually for four years. It’s double what the organization has received from the grant program in the past, said Amy Dreps, the coalition’s executive director.
Dreps, who took over two months ago, said that money will translate into better services for the organization’s 52 clients living with HIV and AIDS in Idaho’s five northern counties. Of those clients, 13 are female, 39 are male and most are in their 40s. An estimated 147 people are living with HIV and AIDS in the five northern counties, out of 1,254 statewide.
The AIDS coalition moved recently from an upstairs office on Sherman Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene to a larger office a couple miles north on Government Way.
Dreps talked to The Spokesman-Review about the coalition’s work.
Q.Can you tell me what the North Idaho AIDS Coalition does?
A.Our primary services are prevention, care and advocacy for people who are infected … with HIV/AIDS. Another big piece of that is an awareness piece, which is education. We provide free HIV testing. Getting out in the community, we have a small grant through the Centers for Disease Control. With that, we can go out to do outreach to some of the high-risk populations.
Q.The Ryan White grant you’ve gotten previously, but this is twice as much. What difference will that make?
A.Our case manager will be able to focus the majority of her time with her clients. Our services are primarily with CHAS (Community Health Association of Spokane) in Spokane Valley. That’s where our clients go for services.
Q.Do you do testing here in the office?
A.We do. It’s called rapid testing. You can get the results in 15 to 20 minutes.
Q.How long has NIAC been around?
A.It started in 1989 as a support group for people with HIV, their families, friends and loved ones. It grew from a part-time staff position to multistaff, which included the director, case manager and volunteers.
Q.How big is your budget?
A.It’s been around $100,000, which does include some of the fundraising we’ve had to do. One of the hugest expenses we have is insurance.
Q.Why is your insurance so high?
A.Testing. It’s like malpractice (insurance). We’re going to have an AIDS Walk in September. We’re hoping proceeds from that will go toward prevention, which will go toward the testing, the insurance, that whole piece.
This is the 30-year mark that they identified the first individuals who had HIV/AIDS in the United States. In the early ’90s, the focus on HIV/AIDS was primarily on risk reduction. The focus now is all about prevention, all about testing, getting out and educating.